Waller’s Elegies

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Political and literary historians have been reconsidering the importance of Waller’s elegy for Cromwell.1 Others have discussed the influence of Proper- tius, Ovid and other Latin love elegists on the Sacharissa poems.2 But little formal attention has been given to Waller’s elegies and verse epitaphs. Of the seventy-two works published in Poems, &c. (1645) only four are presented as elegies in their titles, though many other pieces exhibit strong elegiac elements and even interludes. Written throughout his career, Waller’s elegies range from the personal (‘Upon the Death of My Lady Rich’) to the occasional (‘Upon the Late Storm, and Death of the Late Usurper O. C.’) to the metapoetic (‘Of an Elegy Made by Mrs Wharton on the Earl of Rochester’) and even the ekphrastic (‘On the Picture of a Fair Youth, taken after he was dead’). In his elegies and epitaphs Waller often employs earthly, heavenly, bodily and other seemingly conventional tropes adopted or adapted by Dryden, Sprat, Marvell, Behn, and other influential peers also considered here. On closer inspection, the knowing bookishness of the tropes mean they become anything but conventional, even when opposed by potent satirical elegists such as George Wither.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEdmund Waller (1606–1687)
EditorsPhilip Major
PublisherBrill Academic Publishers
Number of pages29
ISBN (Electronic)9789004523135
ISBN (Print)9789004463974
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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